Juke Joint Festival Spotlights Mississippi Blues History
By SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. – In Clarksdale, epicenter of the blues, this year’s Juke Joint Festival has everything from legendary blues singers like Grammy-winner David “Honeyboy” Edwards, all the way to racing pigs and monkeys riding on dogs.
More than 50 musical acts are scheduled to play at the three-day event that starts Thursday in the Mississippi Delta city that was hometown to blues icons Son House, Junior Parker and John Lee Hooker and childhood home of playwright Tennessee Williams.
Fans will hear most of the daytime music outdoors and not in a juke joint — the kind of black-owned, quasi-legal liquor and gambling houses that once peppered the Jim Crow South. About half of the 16 nighttime venues, however, are in authentic, surviving juke joints, including Anniebelle’s Lounge and Red’s Lounge in downtown Clarksdale, across the track from Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club.
The city, once surrounded by a sea of cotton plantations, is also home to the myth-drenched crossroads of U.S. highways 49 and 61, where legend has it the great bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar-playing dexterity.
Read the rest here.
If you can make it to Jackson this weekend, I would highly recommend it. I truly wish I had heard of this festival sooner because I would have absolutely taken time off and planned my budget in order to attend. For me, it would be worth it just to see THE Crossroad with my own eyes. Knowing that David “Honeyboy” Edwards is going to be there makes it all the more heartbreaking that I won’t. From the article:
Honeyboy Edwards, meanwhile, has the kind of blues resume that cannot be replicated.
Stolle said the 94-year-old Edwards, is living history: a link to one of the blues realm’s most compelling and influential figures.
“He hoboed, he hung out with Robert Johnson,” Stolle said. “His storytelling ability is really fantastic. He can tell you what color the sky was on a certain day.”
Stolle said Edwards will play two sets and give a question-and-answer session on Friday at 3 p.m. at the Delta Blues Museum with a show called, “Conversations With Honeyboy.” All of Edwards’ performances will be free.
And the cost? 10 dollars. That’s right – 10 little US Dollars. Ho-lee crap. Check out the agenda:
There’s a $10 cost to cover all night activities that include 16 venues with 17 acts. A train, equipped with a wagon built by local Mennonites, will carry music lovers from one show to another, from downtown Clarksdale, past the crossroads to Hopson Plantation. In 1944 it became the world’s first fully mechanized cotton farm, an occurrence that ultimately helped spur the Great Migration of black laborers to the North.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go start planning my trip to next year’s Juke Joint Festival. This isn’t something I care to miss again.